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September 09, 2020
Vertiv ensures data stays in motion
It seems likely that edge computing – in its various guises – is going to be a significant driver for new data center capacity. Currently, around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralised data center or cloud. By 2022, analyst group Gartner predicts this figure will reach 50%. The challenge is that while our collective appetite for digital services is seemingly infinite, energy availability – especially in cities where a lot of new edge computing demand will be created – is not. For example, the Dutch Data Center Association recently warned that Amsterdam could be facing an energy shortage due to data center rapid expansion. Other so-called FLAP (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris) cities are also facing similar shortages in power and space. This growth in data center capacity is compounded by a similar seismic shift in energy generation and distribution. The introduction of more renewables, and the retiring of fossil fuels, is creating a cleaner but more intermittent energy supply in many regions. Who can be an active player in this new energy ecosystem and how? It’s important however to point out that the concept of data centers participating in grid demand response and other advanced energy initiatives is not an entirely new concept – large cloud providers are already strategic energy players – but new technologies, and business models, are making it a more practical reality for a wider set of players. For example, Vertiv, along with our partners, has been working on numerous initiatives to embrace this energy integrated future. We recently announced a partnership with UK-based Upside Energy to enable existing and future UK customers to use uninterruptible power supplies and other resiliency IT infrastructure for grid storage services. Using a combination of Vertiv’s UPS equipment – including Lithium-Ion batteries – and Upside’s energy management software, a 1MW facility could generate additional value of more than £80,000 per year. We’ve also announced a similar partnership with E.ON in Germany and expect to provide innovative energy services in more locations in the near future. But despite these initiatives, the cooperative integration between energy grids and data centers is still at an early stage. And to be truly efficient, the integration probably needs to go beyond connecting facilities-side infrastructure to the grid and move up into the software layer. With the right software platforms in place, workloads could be shifted in time or by location to optimise efficiency, resiliency and grid stability.